Launched on April 11, 2013, and drawing its name from President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign slogan (“Forward”), FWD.us is a pro-Democrat organization founded by thirteen tech-industry leaders to promote the passage of “comprehensive immigration reform” in the United States. Assserting that America was “built on the ingenuity and drive of immigrants,” FWD calls on Congress and President Obama to “reform the country’s archaic and broken immigration system [in order] to attract innovators and build prosperous neighborhoods with strong families and good jobs.”
In a Washington Postop ed, FWD's leading founder, Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg, wrote that his fledgling group's objective was to attract “the most talented and hardest-working people” from around the world and thereby bolster America's “knowledge economy.” Zuckerberg added that he was inspired to launch Fwd.us after teaching a class on entrepreneurship in an after-school program:
“One day I asked my students what they thought about going to college. One of my top aspiring entrepreneurs told me he wasn’t sure that he'd be able to go to college because he's undocumented. His family is from Mexico, and they moved here when he was a baby. Many students in my community are in the same situation; they moved to the United States so early in their lives that they have no memories of living anywhere else. These students are smart and hardworking, and they should be part of our future.”
FWD focuses its advocacy efforts chiefly on five immigration-related objectives:
1) “Provide law enforcement [with] the tools necessary to secure the border.”
2) “Establish a streamlined process for admitting future workers to ensure that we continue to promote innovation and meet our workforce needs.” Toward this end, FWD calls for modifications to the guest-worker program that would allow an increase in the number of H-1B visas for immigrants trained in specialized fields such as science and engineering.
3) “Develop a simple and effective employment verification system.”
4) “Reform the legal immigration system to better strengthen the American economy and American families.”
5) “Create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants currently living in the United States that do not have legal status.”
From its inception, FWD stood firmly behind Senate Bill 744, known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Sponsored by the so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. senators (four Democrats and four Republicans), this bill called for the provision of a path-to-citizenship for most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already residing in the United States; an expedited path-to-citizenship for illegals who first entered the U.S. as minors; a doubling of the number of future legal immigrants permitted to enter the U.S. from Mexico; and a continuance of the practice of “birthright citizenship,” whereby American citizenship is automatically granted to babies born in the United States regardless of the parents' legal status.
To make an economic case for legalization and continued high rates of immigration (mostly from Hispanic countries), FWD maintains that “immigrants are critical to our economy,” as evidenced by the fact that “40% of the 2010 Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.” Citing a report by the Democrat-affiliated Center for American Progress, a highly influential think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, FWD asserts that conferring legal status and citizenship on illegals would quickly inject hundreds of billions of new dollars into the U.S. economy.
FWD has two major headquarters. One, located in Silicon Valley, handles the group's digital, organizing, and membership initiatives. The other, based in Washington DC, focuses on advocacy, research, and communication efforts.
Though FWD describes its 13 co-founders as a “bi-partisan” alliance, their political allegiances in fact lean heavily, though not entirely, toward Democrats. In addition to Mark Zuckerberg, the organization's co-founders include:
FWD.us founder and president Joe Green, who worked for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign;
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, whose political donations have gone exclusively to Democrats—e.g., Joe Kennedy III, Bob Kerrey, Barack Obama, and Tom Udall—and to leftwing organizations such as ActBlue, Priorities USA Action, and Democratic Party organs in 9 states;
Dropbox founder Drew Houston, who has supported exclusively Democratic candidates (including Barack Obama) as well as Democratic Party organs in more than 10 states; and
Founders Fund managing partner Sean Parker, who likewise has contributed exclusively to Democratic candidates—including Barack Obama and Harry Reid—as well as Democratic Party organs in at least a dozen states.
The four remaining FWD founders have little to no history of political partisanship. These include Dropbox vice presidents Aditya Agarwal and Ruchi Sanghvi; Benchmark general partner Matt Cohler; and The Social+Capital Partnership founder Chamath Palihapitiya.
FWD's leading financial contributors include such notables as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Facebook vice president Chris Cox, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Yahoo president/CEO Marissa Mayer (a major Obama acolyte), and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt (a staunch Obama supporter and board chairman of the New America Foundation). Other top donors to FWD include corporate leaders from Airbnb, AVOS, Cisco, Code.org, Domo, Formation 8, Groupon, Instagram, Jawbone, Khosla Ventures, Netflix, One Kings Lane, Path, SpaceX, Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, Yammer, and Zynga.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, FWD promotes its immigration-related agendas through the use of both “online and offline advocacy tools.” To maximize the effectiveness of these efforts, FWD in April 2013 established two subsidiary organizations—Americans for a Conservative Direction and the Council for American Job Growth. The former seeks to appeal to conservative and Republican voters, while the latter targets a liberal/left constituency. Said FWD spokeswoman Kate Hansen: “Maintaining two separate entities … to support elected officials across the political spectrum—separately—means that we can more effectively communicate with targeted audiences of their constituents.”
In September 2013, Mark Zuckerberg visited Capitol Hill to press members of Congress in private meetings to support an immigration overhaul that eventually would grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants.
On October 18, 2013, FWD announced its plan to hold a “DREAMer Hackathon” (hosted at LinkedIn's California headquarters) in November, to refocus attention on immigration reform. According to FWD president Joe Green, famous coders including Zuckerberg and Dropbox's Drew Houston would team up with immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors, commonly referred to as “DREAMers,” to build tools that address “the problems within our immigration system.” “We hope that momentum coming from our hackathon—and the technology it creates—can help move immigration reform forward,” said Green.
In late January 2014, FWD distributed to all Members of Congress a document titled “Summary Background Memo on Broad Support for Immigration Reform,” which included a section on “The Shocking Extremism Behind Anti-Immigrant Groups” such as CIS, FAIR, NumbersUSA, and Project-USA. A spokesperson for FWD stated that the memo contained “factual information ... about the origins and real [allegedly racist and hateful] motivations of some of the loudest anti-immigrant groups.” To view the text of the memo, click here.
By July 1, 2014, FWD had spent almost $100 million on its effort to promote congressional passage of an amnesty bill. The organization's president, Joe Green, blamed Republicans for stalling such legislation:
“While President Obama has taken necessary steps to address temporarily some of the urgent problems plaguing our nation in the face of over a year of unacceptable inaction by House Republicans, the only way to solve this problem is a permanent legislative solution. We remain deeply disappointed and urge them to pass legislation to fix our broken immigration system as soon as possible."
Apart from immigration, a secondary issue of concern to FWD is “education reform” aimed at “produc[ing] more graduates in the science, technology and math fields.”
 “We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants,” Zuckerberg said of America, which is home to more than 20% of all the immigrants on earth. “And it's a policy unfit for today's world.”
 This is the cornerstone of FWD's immigration plan, given that: (a) nearly 80% of all current illegals are Hispanics (from Mexico and Latin America), who, as a group, tend overwhelmingly to support Democratic candidates and causes; and (b) conferring citizenship on Hispanic illegals will lead, through “family-reunification” and “chain-migration” provisions in immigration-reform legislation, to an influx of at least 30 million additional Hispanic immigrants (and Democratic voters) within a relatively short time.
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